South Island 21yo (40%, The New Zealand Whisky Company)

And here is already the third review of a Whisky released by Mr. Ramsay’s New Zealand Whisky Company. After the Dunedin Doublewood and the South Island 18yo, both very good Whiskies. Time to step up the stakes with this even older 21yo. Let’s see if it is also a step up in quality and taste.

South Island 21yo (40%, The New Zealand Whisky Company)Color: Light gold.

Nose: Fresh, citrus fruits, waxy and herbal. Quite complex and instantly likeable. Tarry toasted wood in the distance. Toffee and cookie dough that is also present in the 18yo. I really like the unusual grassy toffee this has. The fruits shift from the initial citrussy freshness toward more sweet an cloying yellow fruits like (dried) apricots. After some breathing there seems to be a hint of smoke and a floral note as well. Well how is this for complexity! Given time, the nose keeps developing, it gets better and better. (Even later again: grassy bonfire and pencil shavings)…

Taste: Wood and cardboard upfront (huh?), but that is quickly surpassed, yet again, with yellow fruits, but not as citrussy as the nose suggested. Small hint of bitterness from the wood to give the fruitiness more character, as does the little bit of sweetness this has. Just one sip and the Whisky already shows great balance. It all fits nicely together. As with the 18yo, this could benefit from a little bit more alcohol. Nice waxiness again.

What a wonderful nose, you kan sit comfortably somewhere and keep smelling this over and over. At 21 years of age this has remarkably little wood, and the wood that’s there makes for great balance. Lovely stuff and a good step up from the 18yo.

Points: 86

Thanks Mr. C!


South Island 18yo (40%, The New Zealand Whisky Company)

Earlier I reviewed the DoubleWood blend of the New Zealand Whisky Company (NZWC). Please have a look at that review for some more history of the NZWC. Here we’ll move on to the first single malt of the NZWC on these pages. They call it the South Island 18yo, because it’s made in the Willowbank distillery in Dunedin on the South Island and its age is no less than 18yo. The Whisky was originally intended to be Lammerlaw single malt. But a new owner stepped in and there is no Lammerlaw in the collection anymore, but what is?

First of all the NZWC has some blends. The DoubleWood 10yo we know, but there also is a DoubleWood 15yo. Both blends had some extensive finishing in New Zealand wine casks. The Water of Leith is another blend by the NZWC, that one is 70% Single Malt, and 30% Grain Whisky.

Another speciality is Diggers and Ditch which they call a ‘Double Malt’ Whisky. Once we all called something like this a Vatted Malt and nowadays we should call this a Blended Single Malt or something if it were Scottish, which it isn’t so Double Malt it is! Diggers and Ditch is a vatting of NZ Single Malt and Tasmanian Single Malt.

Next in the collection is the Milford Range. Here we have a 10yo, a 15yo, a 18yo and a 20yo. All bottled at 43% ABV.Only two series left. First the South Island range of Whiskies. Here we have a 18yo, a 21yo and a 25yo. The 18yo and the 21yo are bottled at 40% ABV. and the 25yo is bottled at 46% ABV. Hurray!

Last but not least the Cask Strength collection. Finally some examples of single casks that are bottled like it sits in the warehouse, at natural strength. For the time being the following Single Cask bottlings are released (the list may not be complete):

  • 1988: 23 year old (casks #70 and #72)
  • 1989: 22 year old (casks #58 and #148)
  • 1990: 21 year old (cask #90)
  • 1993: 18 year old (casks #21 and #32)

Color: Light gold.

Nose: Fresh, lively and fruity. Hints of cream butter, toffee, flower and cookie dough. Very rustic, light, sunny and fruity. Apple compote. Tiny hints of creamy wood. It smells like a summer’s day in the country, where a warm wind moves the curtains, and a freshly baked apple pie sits on the window sill.

Taste: Light, fresh and fruity again. Chalk and the slightest hint of malt. Apples in all its guises. Apple skins, apple compote, warm apple pie. The sugary sweetness tastes a bit watered down, but the nice fruity acidity keeps the whole fresh. The apples taste fantastic in the finish. A happy Whisky!

I wasn’t a firm believer of the “summer dram”, but if they exist, this is one of them! Extremely happy I bought myself a bottle of this 🙂 This gets the same score as the DoubleWood but it is a completely different Whisky.

Points: 84